I've been promising clams for the end of the week. I always assumed these amandes de mer (above) were a luxury version, judging by their size and glossiness, and that the price might be per clam. But looking closer, it really was per kilo, and they really were about eight times cheaper than these palourdes
from the bay of Mont St Michel. (I think they're known as carpetshell clams elsewhere).
The amandes really were absurdly cheap, so I bought rather a lot of them. They turned out to be dog cockles, which are scarcely considered worth eating in some parts of the world, though they are a plentiful, sustainable source of protein, largely a by-catch, and so really just the kind of thing we should be eating. However, there's a reason they are not considered a delicacy, delicate does not really describe them, they rival whelks for, er, robustness of texture, and they were rather hard work. But the magic trick of steaming shellfish and watching them pop open like Chinese water flowers (I haven't seen those for a long time...), the alchemy of the court bouillon made from the tail end of some cheap rosé and the stalks of the parsley, lemon thyme and fennel which went into the garlic and herb butter I stuffed them with, and mopping up the juices with crusty bread, were all rather wonderful, and the real palourdes were delectably tender by comparison.
Also there was ...
~ this French food blog I found looking for advice and recipes as to how to cook them. French foody stuff doesn't usually do much for me, for a variety of reasons, but this is lovely, cheerful and quirky and original, though it's more fussing over food and wine knowledge than I can aspire to, it's a nice place to wander.
Then there was
~ the Viognier we drank with it. I like a nice Viognier very much and will drink it with pretty much anything. This was an Ardeche one, as were the first VDP ones I came across, but it was labelled Indication Geographique Protegee, which I'd never seen before but apparently it's just a European version of VDP. In fact I have two whole bottles of real Condrieu which I got for my birthday last year and didn't drink then, and which I am too much in awe of and have wanted for too long to quite have the nerve to broach now (or is it breach?). But I get them out and look at them sometimes. I've never tried a New World one - how would I have done?